I talked about Wikipedia and other wikis when I gave a presentation to a journalism class about two weeks ago. I just had an interesting conversation with someone about its pros and cons. He knew a bit about how it’s run and was able to shed some light on its editorial control, which raised my opinion about it a little. My caution to the journalism students was that anyone, regardless of their credentials and knowledge, can edit wikis. It’s easy for people to get names and dates and maybe even the sequence of events incorrect. A strength my friend pointed out that I hadn’t considered is the speed at which entries can get updated. He learned about someone’s death through Wikipedia about a day before the media began running stories about it because people close to the family updated the encyclopedia entry after learning the news. He also reinforced the notion that many people very knowledgeable about certain subjects write the entries for those subjects.
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